Alberta’s new premier cans clumsy, unmemorable provincial slogan

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

You can probably rattle off a half-dozen memorable advertising slogans without even thinking.

Coffee Crisp makes a nice light snack. A diamond is forever. And if you're old enough: Brylcream, a little dab'll do ya.

Slogans can be a potentially powerful marketing tool, embedding a message deep in your psyche. But slogan-making is not for amateurs, as the Alberta government has figured out.

Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid reports the province is ditching its current promotional slogan: "Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve."

The change coincides with the arrival of new Premier Alison Redford, replacing Ed Stelmach. Redford says she will quickly phase out the slogan that "has fallen very much into disuse."

Redford said she will ask the province's Public Affairs Bureau, which created the previous clunker, to help come up with a new one.

"Any phrase that's going to describe Alberta is something Albertans need to feel passionate about," Redford said. "And something we have to spend an awful lot of time trying to remember isn't something we feel passionate about."

The move comes not long after neighbouring British Columbia under new Premier Christy Clark, canned its far catchier slogan: "The Best Place on Earth," which was also featured on the province's licence plates.

Alberta's licence plate tagline, "Wild Rose Country," is unlikely to get a promotion, given Redford's ruling Progressive Conservatives face the opposition Wildrose party in the legislature.

Redford isn't the only one who apparently didn't care for the previous double-barrelled slogan. It got a lot of criticism when it was launched in 2009 and, despite $3.7 million spent on promotion, a government poll indicated only about a third of Albertans were aware of it.

The government already has been quietly shelving the slogan on its web sites and soon will be slogan-less until a replacement is developed. Redford favours something punchy, similar to "The Alberta Advantage," which the previous slogan replaced.

Redford had a brainstorm of her own: "Alberta is Opportunity," which came out of a speech she made in the legislature.

"I'm not putting it out as a program or a policy announcement or anything we're attaching dollars to. But it's an idea. I think Albertans might be excited about it. If they are, it will take hold."

It's hard calculate the economic payoff of a good provincial slogan but it's fair to say a bad one can be counter-productive.

According to slogan expert Timothy R.V. Foster of British-based, a good slogan has 26 characteristics, with memorability ranking at the top. It should also be simple, neat, positive and believable. It should not be pretentious, complicated or clumsy.

Are you listening over there at Alberta Public Affairs?